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in·​ter·​est ˈin-t(ə-)rəst How to pronounce interest (audio)
: a feeling that accompanies or causes special attention to something or someone : concern
: something or someone that arouses such attention
: a quality in a thing or person arousing interest
: a charge for borrowed money generally a percentage of the amount borrowed
: the profit in goods or money that is made on invested capital
: an excess above what is due or expected
returned the insults with interest
: right, title, or legal share in something
: participation in advantage and responsibility


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interested; interesting; interests

transitive verb

: to engage the attention or arouse the interest of
: to induce or persuade to participate or engage

Examples of interest in a Sentence

Noun She told us about her lifelong interest in music. The kids listened to the speaker for a little while, but then lost interest. The speaker wasn't able to hold their interest. She took an active interest in the political debate. He expressed an interest in learning more about photography. The stories about his personal life add interest to the book. I thought this article might be of interest to you. We visited many places of interest on our vacation. The price of the ticket was a matter of interest to everyone. Music is one of her many interests. Verb Military history doesn't really interest me. It might interest you to know that the woman in this photograph is your great-grandmother. It interested me to learn that she had once lived in California. The salesman tried to interest me in a more expensive computer.
Recent Examples on the Web
Complicating matters, as the Skydance sale process has dragged on, Redstone has fielded interest from at least two other interested buyers for National Amusements. Meg James, Los Angeles Times, 3 June 2024 Being unbanked can further the cycle of poverty by forcing people to rely on alternative financial services with predatory interest rates, like payday loans. Jennah Pendleton, Sacramento Bee, 3 June 2024
And while those cuties are worth a visit themselves, what interests thrill-seekers are their top predator: the great white shark. Alex Schechter, Travel + Leisure, 24 May 2024 Listen, share ideas and participate in events and activities that interest you. Eugenia Last, The Mercury News, 17 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for interest 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'interest.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English, probably alteration of earlier interesse, from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin, from Latin, to be between, make a difference, concern, from inter- + esse to be — more at is

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4a(1)


1608, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of interest was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near interest

Cite this Entry

“Interest.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
in·​ter·​est ˈin-trəst How to pronounce interest (audio)
: a right, title, or legal share in something
: something that promotes well-being : benefit
: a charge for borrowed money that is generally a percentage of the amount borrowed
: the profit in goods or money that is made on invested capital
: readiness to be concerned with or moved by something
: a quality that arouses interest
modern art holds no interest for him


2 of 2 verb
: to persuade to participate or take part
couldn't interest her in joining us
: to arouse or hold the interest of
the movie does not interest me

Legal Definition


: a right, title, claim, or share in property
Article Nine security interest
: security interest in this entry
beneficial interest
: the right to the use and benefit of property a beneficial interest in the trust
contingent interest
: a future interest whose vesting is dependent upon the occurrence or nonoccurrence of a future event compare vested interest in this entry
controlling interest
: sufficient stock ownership in a corporation to exert control over policy
equitable interest
: an interest (as a beneficial interest) that is held by virtue of equitable title or that may be claimed on the ground of equitable relief claimed an equitable interest in the debtor's assets
executory interest
: a future interest other than a remainder or reversion that may take effect upon the divesting of a prior interest or one created simultaneously

Note: Unlike a remainder, an executory interest does not require the expiration of a prior interest. It was designed to guard against the destructibility of contingent remainders set forth in the rule in Shelley's case.

expectation interest
: the interest of a party to a breached contract in receiving the benefit of the bargain by being put in a position as good as that which would have resulted had the contract been performed

called also expectancy interest

compare reliance interest in this entry
future interest
: an interest in property limited or created so that its owner will come into the use, possession, or enjoyment of it at some future time see also contingent interest and executory interest in this entry compare remainder, reversion
insurable interest
: an interest or stake in property or in a person that arises from the potential for especially financial loss upon the destruction of the property or the death of the person and that is a requirement for enforcing an insurance contract

Note: The purpose of requiring an insurable interest is to prevent the use of insurance as a form of gambling or as a method of profiting from destruction.

legal interest
: an interest that is recognized in law (as by legal title) compare equitable interest in this entry, legal title at title
life interest
: an interest lasting for the duration of a person's life that forecloses the ability to affect the property beyond that term compare life estate at estate sense 1
possessory interest
: an interest (as a right) involving or arising out of the possession of property

Note: A possessory interest is based on control rather than use. Thus a lessee who occupies and controls the use of property has a possessory interest, while a party who has an easement does not.

purchase money security interest
: the security interest held by the seller of collateral to secure payment of all or part of the price
: the security interest of a person that gives value to a debtor so that the debtor may acquire rights in or the use of collateral
reliance interest
: the interest of a party to a breached contract in being compensated for detriments suffered (as expenses incurred) in reliance on the agreement compare expectation interest in this entry
reversionary interest
: an interest in property (as a possibility of reverter or a power of termination) remaining in the transferor of the property or in his or her successor in interest
security interest
: an interest in property that exists by contract as security for payment or performance of an obligation the security interest of a mortgagee in the mortgaged property
also : lien

Note: While a lien may be created by statutory or judicial means without any agreement providing for security (as in the case of a tax lien or judgment lien), a security interest and lien may inhere in the same claim, as when a mortgage comprises both a lien on and security interest in the mortgaged property.

: an interest in personal property or fixtures created by a security agreement that secures payment or performance of an obligation the creditor had a security interest in the inventory and accounts receivable of the business

called also Article Nine security interest

see also attach sense 3, collateral sense 2, perfect entry 2 sense b, purchase money security interest in this entry

Note: Security interests in personal property are governed by Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code. The security interest set out in Article 9 largely replaces the traditional devices for security, such as the pledge and chattel mortgage. A security interest in property that has attached enables a creditor to obtain satisfaction of a debt out of the property without the need to obtain a judgment in court and levy on the property. Further, it provides the creditor with priority over competing claims against the property.

terminable interest
: an interest (as in a life estate) that will terminate upon the occurrence of an event or the passing of time
vested interest
: a present and certain right to the present or future enjoyment of property compare contingent interest in this entry
working interest
: the interest of a party that holds the right to oil, gas, or minerals on a property and that bears production costs see also overriding royalty
: a specific concern or level of involvement (as financial involvement) especially that warrants recognition or causes bias
had a right to intervene because of an interest in the litigation
recused himself due to an interest in the matter
see also conflict of interest
: something that causes or warrants particular attention: as
: a principle, purpose, or object of concern
compelling state interest
: a governmental interest (as in educating children or protecting the public) which is so important that it outweighs individual rights
public interest
a : the general welfare and rights of the public that are to be recognized, protected, and advanced the attorney general has standing as a representative of the public interest
b : a specific public benefit or stake in something the public interest in controlling crime
: the concern or attention of the public a matter of widespread public interest
: a right especially that arises from a constitution (as the U.S. Constitution)
especially : such a right considered as an issue or claim created in or involving a particular situation or thing
no person will be deprived of his interests in the absence of a proceeding in which he may present his case Marshall v. Jerrico, Inc., 446 U.S. 238 (1980)
liberty interest
: an interest in freedom from governmental deprivation of liberty especially without due process the liberty interest implicated by the needless discouragement of the exercise of the right to counselState v. Albert, 899 P.2d 103 (1995) (dissent)
privacy interest
: an interest in freedom from governmental intrusion into matters in which one has a reasonable expectation of privacy we have no privacy interest protected by the federal Constitution in limiting public or government access to knowledge of our financial transactionsL. H. Tribe
property interest
: an interest in freedom from governmental deprivation of property and sources of financial gain (as employment or a government benefit) without due process
broadly : something (as a job or benefit) to which one has a legitimate claim of entitlement and that cannot be taken away without due process as distinguished from the unprotected object of a need, desire, or expectation
: the well-being of a person
often used in pl.
does not serve the child's best interests
: a charge for the use of another's money that is usually a percentage of the money being used
an account yielding 7% interest
paid back the loan with interest
compound interest
: interest computed on the sum of the original principal and accrued interest
legal interest
: a lawful interest rate and especially the highest rate allowed proposals to increase the legal interest on department store credit cards to 15%American Banker
also : interest computed at such a rate
awarded the defendant legal interest
compare usury
qualified residence interest
: interest that is deductible from adjusted gross income under federal tax law when it is paid on debt that is secured by one's residence and that was incurred for the acquisition, construction, improvement, or refinancing of the residence or through a home equity loan
simple interest
: interest computed on the principal of a loan or account


probably alteration of earlier interesse, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin, from Latin, to be between, make a difference, concern, from inter- between, among + esse to be

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